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How Science Advises Overcoming Procrastination-Part 2

How Science Advises Overcoming Procrastination-Part 2

Here are more tips on how to overcome putting things off from “Why Your Brain Loves Procrastination” by Susannah Locke ( procrastination?utm_source=pocket-newtab, 4/18/16, accessed 2/5/20). Make sure you’ve read part one of this two-part blog which explains why you need to engage in self-compassion rather than self-criticism if you put things off—then, read on.

Tim Pychyl, psychologist and Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada professor explains recent research that makes a good deal of sense: “. . . what’s happening with procrastination is that ‘present self’ is always trumping ‘future self’ . . . Some people see these selves as completely distinct, and some people see them totally overlapping. The people who see the present and future self as more overlapping have more self-continuity and report less procrastination.”

After reading this article I spent a session with a client who keeps stalling on taking walks that she swears she wants to take. First, I helped her drop the anger at herself for not doing what she says she want to do. We agreed that she could be a tad disappointed but that her goal was to be compassionate with herself when she didn’t meet her own standards. She said she felt much better being kind to herself than unkind which was a fine start. Then I helped her imagine her future, healthier self doing better because she was taking walks. She mentioned that her blood pressure would decline, she’d feel less stressed and that she might even invite her young son along so that they could spend quality time together. Just by talking about the future in specific terms, she acknowledged feeling more connected to her future self.

Another tip that Pychyl recommends is for people to tell themselves “I’m just gonna get started” rather than to “just do it.” Talking about taking first steps in the direction of a goal bypasses feeling the pressure to commit which makes some folks uncomfortable. It’s similar to what I was told in a stop smoking program scores ago and to AA’s motto of one day at a time. Tell yourself you’ll just do an activity (or change in habit) once—just for now you’ll take a walk, eat only half the food on your plate, or not watch TV and munch on snacks at the same time.

There are more tips in the article. The idea is to use all of them to curb procrastination —self-compassion, envisioning your future self, setting intentions, avoiding distraction, and telling yourself you’re just going to get started. Give them a try and see if you get more things done.